US, Russia to start talks on nuke arms control: Putin

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were speaking to reporters in Osaka, ahead of their first formal face-to-face meeting since a controversial high-profile summit in Helsinki last July.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were speaking to reporters in Osaka, ahead of their first formal face-to-face meeting since a controversial high-profile summit in Helsinki last July. PHOTO: AFP

OSAKA • Foreign ministers from the United States and Russia will begin talks over nuclear arms control, but it may not lead to an extension of the Start3 nuclear disarmament treaty, President Vladimir Putin has said.

"We have charged our respective foreign ministers with starting consultations on this subject... but we cannot yet say whether this will lead to an extension of Start3," Mr Putin told reporters after a Group of 20 summit in Osaka yesterday.

Mr Putin did not say when talks would begin.

Start3 refers to a proposed agreement between the two nuclear powers for which negotiations broke down years ago.

Intended as a successor to previous agreements, it would have required them to lower their numbers of deployed nuclear weapons. The two countries are currently covered by the New Start treaty signed in 2010, which caps the number of nuclear warheads well below Cold War limits.

But it expires in 2021, and Mr Putin has been calling on the US to negotiate an extension, saying Washington's failure to do so is a threat to arms control.

Together with another agreement known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, New Start is considered a centrepiece of superpower arms control.

Earlier this month, Mr Putin said Russia was prepared to drop New Start if the US continues to put off negotiations, warning of a "global catastrophe" if Washington works to dismantle the international arms control regime.

Earlier this month, Mr Putin said Russia was prepared to drop New Start if the US continues to put off negotiations, warning of a "global catastrophe" if Washington works to dismantle the international arms control regime.

Moscow suspended participation in the INF treaty in March after United States President Donald Trump's White House announced it would ditch the key agreement for alleged Russian violations of the terms.

Mr Trump, whose national security adviser has signalled that he would not extend the New Start, has been interested in negotiating a three-way arms pact with Russia and China.

Mr Putin has not ruled out such an accord, but he has noted that China has only a fraction of the nuclear weapons that the US and Russia have.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 30, 2019, with the headline 'US, Russia to start talks on nuke arms control: Putin'. Print Edition | Subscribe